THE TASTE OF FREEDOM

Mr. Alpenglow has been learning a bit about the Seder, a Jewish ritual feast celebrating the beginning of Passover. Since it involves a retelling of the story of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, the Seder meal revolves around themes of slavery and freedom. According to the biblical narrative, the Israelites left Egypt with such haste that their dough did not have time to rise. This unleavened bread — matzo — serves as a reminder of affliction and subsequent freedom. In the spirit of unbridled freedom, here is a playful and absolutely non-traditional matzo appetizer inspired by a dish by Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter in NYC.

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MATZO with CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE 
grape jelly, pickled red onion, crispy shallot, parsley

for 6-8 appetizer servings:
1 package of matzo
chicken liver mousse (below)
concord grape jelly
1/2 a red onion, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp each sugar and salt
1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup of flat-leaf parsley leaves
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Make the chicken liver mousse ahead of time, preferably the day before serving. Also make the pickled red onions ahead of time by combining the onion, sugar, salt, and vinegar in a bowl. Rinse and drain when ready to use. Just before serving the matzo, dredge the shallot rings in flour and fry in oil; let them drain and cool on a wire rack. Place the chicken liver mousse (at room temperature) and the grape jelly in separate squeeze bottles. Working with one matzo at a time, make different sized circles of chicken liver mousse and grape jelly. Garnish with the pickled onions, crispy shallots, and parsley leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.

for the chicken liver mousse:
2 cups of chicken livers
2 tbsp minced shallots
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup of cognac
1/4 cup of whipping cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. pepper
pinch of thyme
1/2 cup of melted butter
kosher salt and pepper

Remove any greenish or blackish spots from the livers, as well as any sinew. Cut the livers into 1/2-incch pieces. Melt butter over medium heat in a sauté pan until foam has subsided. Sauté livers with the shallots in butter for 2 to 3 minutes, until the livers are just stiffened, but still rosy inside. Scrape into the blender jar. Pour the wine or cognac into the pan and boil it down rapidly until it has reduced to 3 tablespoons. Scrape it into the blender jar. Add the cream and seasonings to the blender jar. Cover and blend at top speed for several seconds until the liver is a smooth paste. Add the melted butter and blend several seconds more. Adjust seasoning. Pack into the bowl or jar and chill for 2 to 3 hours. Serve at room temperature.

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CURRIED SUNCHOKE FRITTERS 
with carrots, raisins and orange yogurt

my riff on a NYT recipe, 4 servings:
1/2 lb. of sunchokes (Jerusalem artichoke), peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
1/2 bunch of scallions, sliced
1/2 cup of raisins
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
freshly cracked black pepper
dash of white pepper powder
2 free range eggs
canola oil for frying

orange zest yogurt:
1 small container plain yogurt
zest from one navel orange
3 drops of orange flower water

Heat the oven to 250. Coarsely grate the sunchokes and carrot into a large bowl and add all the other ingredients (except the oil). Mix well. Heat almost 1/2 inch of canola oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high flame. Use a spoon to drop the sunchoke mixture in the oil, flattening them with a spatula. Fry until deep golden brown, flipping once. Transfer to a pan in the oven while you finish frying. Serve with the orange zest yogurt.

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